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Feeling (Oxford) blue

Depending on who you believe, the interviews for a new manager are either completed, being wrapped up today or the second interviews have yet to be conducted (and by the sound of Bassey here it’s the latter), so at the very latest we’ll know by about Monday.

After last night, the appointment can’t come quick enough.

See, we have a very big problem right now, and if anything it shows itself up most of all when we do play well – we just do not have the mental capability to win games any more.

Oxford were there for the taking last night – we weren’t 2-1 up at half time by accident. After a wobble after they scored, we started to do something that I can’t recall us doing in a while : we actually took the game to them, got two goals (and check out Fenlon’s if you haven’t seen it already) and for once showed a bit of the spark that has been missing for so long.

It helped that our opponents were on the metaphorical floor themselves, but you have to take these opportunities when they arise.

And we didn’t.

I’m really not sure what happened in the second half. Actually, I do – we are mentally weak. Damagingly weak, at that. When Oxford equalised, you just had that gut feeling yet again that it would be another game in the “L” column, and needless to say…

We know it, and the problem is the players know it too. When the new boss comes in, he needs to get inside their heads and quick. There are signs of improvement, albeit against fellow strugglers, but that will count for nothing when they cannot sustain any good play.

See, we nearly got a point last night. We nearly could have won. We are nearly on the right track, and we are nearly getting away from the crap of the last rites of the TB era.

And we may nearly stay up at this rate.

The word “nearly” is used by hopelessly struggling teams as a self-defence mechanism to make them feel better. We used it a fair amount in the last Premier League campaign, after all. But “nearly” isn’t good enough.

We are actually losing games, even if we could have won them (like last night). We are actually paying for a fragile, weak mindset that cannot take its opportunties. We are actually suffering thanks to the mentality the previous management instilled in us. We are actually in trouble.

Thankfully, it’s still early October, which was around the time in 2011 that things started to turn to shit. I think we can turn things around, but we really do need what WDSA termed after Accrington and again this morning as a “circuitbreaker“. That might be all we need right now, at least until we can start properly repairing come January.

In reality, I can’t see things changing much without the new boss needing to call in some favours. A non-contract player or two (a la Antwi), a loan signing here and there, if only to break up the losing vibe and put in urgently needed steel and experience.

It won’t be as radical as getting shot of 14 players in a short period of time – and in hindsight, how crazy was that? – but when you’re on the floor as we are, just the little things can make a difference.

Reading that WDSA piece from this morning, I note the insinuations that nothing was going right for Bassey. OK, we have that to contend with, although for those who believe in the Footballing Gods concept, it may well be telling us that the need for a fresh start is paramount.

But I also believe you make your own luck. After watching the goals again on SSN, I know he was a hero for us at Eastlands, but Seb Brown is currently as much of a liability as a shotstopper. Look at the second goal from last night when you find it, but again he doesn’t inspire any confidence with his flapping and fumbles.

While we did create a couple of decent opportunities last night, we failed to take any of them. Byron may well have scored, but he had a 1-on-1 and failed to do anything with it.

That’s not bad luck.

More so than ever, we’ll have to wait and see what happens when a permanent appointment is made. At the moment, that seems to be all we can cling onto.

A few other observations from last night. The new game of Spot The New Manager didn’t seem to take off last night, although it’s easy to hide away in the Kassam. Who knows who was keeping an eye on us and wishing they hadn’t applied for the job after all.

In times like these, it’s interesting to see the reactions of individuals on the field afterwards. Sammy Moore had his hands behind his head in that “fuck” manner. OK, we lost, and it’s a lot to do with that, but perhaps it was also a realisation that his mate isn’t going to get the job full time now? Not that I have any sympathy, he’s been annoying me recently with his constant attempts to persuade the decision makers to give his buddy Bassey the job, and like many others, he will get what he deserves.

I might be making too much of this, but Paul Priddy clapped the travelling support off at the end (interestingly enough as well – Bassey was nowhere to be seen), and I’m not sure if he’s done that before. Maybe it was a final farewell? He is (and was) here because of TB, and is somebody you wouldn’t expect to be around under a new regime.

Will we miss him if he does go? He hasn’t appeared to improve Seb’s game too much since Eastlands, and that might be another position that a fresh approach will help to sort out. It needs to, anyway.

Speaking of the travelling support, it really was piss poor again for Oxford – under 300. I know it’s in the evening, the team are playing shit, and it’s not very easy for a trip to the city centre (we would have more on a Saturday), but Wycombe was apparently sub-700 too. Are people simply picking and choosing their games at the moment?

Mind you, away ticket prices don’t help matters, so I guess if your budget is a bit tighter, you’re paying higher prices at KM “to help Terry with the transfers” (I must dig out the blurb the club put out when it raised ticket prices) and you’ve been rewarded for your extra money with utter shit, you’re not going to make the effort so much.

I’ve got to be honest, and cue lectures about “loyalty”, but I wouldn’t really blame anyone who is cutting back on going to games right now. Even with the recent (relative) improvement, it’s not like the team is giving you much in return for your support…

And one final thought that your editor had whilst driving back on the M40. Assuming the new boss isn’t Bassey, what does his future hold with the club? I don’t doubt he likes being a manager, but his relationship with the players has now changed – no matter what Sammy Moore would probably wish, he has been their boss in the dressing room and not their friend.

Could he go back to that role that he had under the TB regime? Assuming that the new boss brings in his own #2, can he go back to being a junior partner? Or to put it another way, be a sub-ordinate again? The link in the first paragraph of this report says he’ll stay, but will he?

Reading a couple of recent interviews with him before last night, he didn’t seem so sure that he would necessarily here should he not get the job. It was more of a “I’ll be here until I’m told otherwise” attitude rather than a “I’m quitting after this” comment, but I still won’t be surprised to see him as boss of a Conference/Conference South side before the end of the season.

As for our own new boss, the OS is going to get some serious hammerings over the next few days for the announcement we all want to hear. But of course, you just know the next update will be about the carvery…